CPR Celebrates Over Forty Years of Advocacy and Contemplates the Future
On October 21, 2016, the Center celebrated its 40th anniversary with more than a hundred supporters and friends. Several professionals and advocates who walked with us over the past four decades reviewed our significant accomplishments, while others visioned what we might do in the future. Then we celebrated, danced, and gave thanks for all that the Center has been and will be.
Forty years ago, the Mental Patients Advocacy Project (the Center’s first project) implemented a national demonstration advocacy program at the Northampton State Hospital and filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of current and future hospital residents (Brewster v. Dukakis) that transformed the community service system in western Massachusetts. Since then, the Center has trained almost one hundred advocates and attorneys who helped us successfully litigate over fifty class action cases and other law reform initiatives in Massachusetts and more than fifteen states. The Center has published numerous law reviews, papers, and advocacy standards, helped close more than ten public institutions and expand community services for over 100,000 individuals with disabilities, and provided support and technical assistance to disability rights advocates throughout the Commonwealth and the Nation.
The Center has never been about the few folks who birthed the organization, or even the hundreds who entered our doors, held our hands, and contributed so much. As Steven Schwartz, one of the Center’s founders and its executive director for almost forty years, noted at the anniversary event, it “has always been about – and only about – individuals with disabilities. They are our friends, our family, our teachers, and even our faith. They have entered us and touched our hearts. They have inspired our voices and ignited our actions. They have required us to practice patience. They have touched us with grace.”
View below videos of those who contributed to our accomplishments, of what we should strive to accomplish in our future, and of friends and associates who have walked with us:
View our panel discussion videos about CPR’s past 40 years, initiatives for the next decade, and open mic discussion:
View the timeline of our successful advocacy.